By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hurricane Florence is churning off the North Carolina coast where it’s expected to make landfall Saturday.

The storm could stall and batter the coast for 24 hours.

Many people have boarded up their homes and are headed to higher ground. Widespread evacuations are underway in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

The Category 3 hurricane is not only expected to land with a punch, but the storm’s impact is expected to be felt for a long time. Rain and widespread flooding are the bigger concern.

And when disaster strikes, Minnesotans are often the first to respond.

On Wednesday, WCCO spoke with some volunteers who are heading south, and one well-known sports figure who says his family just evacuated South Carolina.

It was a busy day at the NECHAMA warehouse in Burnsville.

“We focus almost entirely on communities with low income, those who have no insurance or little flood insurance to rely on,” David Kaplan, director of NECHAMA said.

The Jewish relief organization is preparing to send down supplies and volunteers to help residents in the Carolinas battening down for Hurricane Florence.

“It was bumper-to-bumper; it was like spring break driving in a parking lot,” said St. Paul Saints President Michael Veeck.

Veeck is missing the playoffs to help his daughter evacuate out of her Charleston home. Veeck and his wife also own a home in the area.

“You play all year long for this to end up in the playoffs. You play your whole life to be a parent,” Veeck said.

The family, including their dog Gracie, evacuated Tuesday and are now staying put in Florida until the storm blows over.

“We could lose both homes and that’s the roll of the dice,” Veeck said. “But I got the people I care about right here.”

After the storm, NECHAMA estimates they will fix roughly 21 homes a week.

Strangers helping strangers–when people need it the most.

“This is going to be a storm where the response is measured in months, maybe even years,” Kaplan said.

The Saint Paul Saints do play tonight in game two of the playoffs against the Kansas City T-Bones.

The game starts at 7:05 at CHS Field.

If you would like to volunteer to help out through NECHAMA, click here.


Kate Raddatz